10 things to avoid during a sales call

Cold calling still remains an effective strategy for B2B lead generation. Even if you attract customers via inbound marketing, you again have sales calls with prospects who find you via your website, social media, etc.

In whichever group your company is (cold call vs inbound sales call), you feel the need to increase your call-to-close rate and here one thing is certain. Successful sales calls start not with “Hello, how is everything?” but with thorough research of the prospect and profound knowledge about the product/service.

cold calling

If you have already walked through the research and preparation stage, it’s time to move to mistakes that sales reps make during a sales call.

10 mistakes that decrease your call-to-close rate

1.    Different prospects, same approach

Blogs are full of phone sales scripts that guarantee to work and lead to closed deals.

Your sales team may have a separate sales script as well that considers the nuances of the products/service you sell. But even the most specific templates are set up to fail as prospects are very different and the situations during the call are sometimes unpredictable.

Instead of sticking to a fixed template, get used to taking notes before and during the call that will guide till the end of the conversation. No matter whether you prefer online notepad or a notebook for taking notes, the most important thing is to ensure they will help you effectively.

2. Your tone is too official or overfamiliar

According to SmallBizGenius, 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the first meeting with a prospect. But even after the 5th call you shouldn’t regard your prospect as your best friend. Using words and expressions that aren’t acceptable in the business world should be avoided.

Alternatively, you shouldn’t look and sound like an indifferent, cold person who doesn’t care about the prospect. Sincere smiles, small jokes, asking about the life in your prospect’s country/city may be enough to keep the balance.


3.  Your prospect is just a listener (+ doesn’t feel valued and gets distracted)

Do you think that asking 1-2 closed questions in the beginning of the call means engaging your prospect? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. The conversation should remain interactive throughout the call and with open questions as well.

By the way, Gong found that “asking between 11-14 discovery call questions correlates with the greatest success”. So keep these numbers in mind if it’s the first time you meet the prospect via a phone.

If the sales call is accompanied with a video, make sure you use slides or show your product in use. Visual elements keep the listener more focused and engaged than your speech, no matter how impressive it is.

Besides, a sales call isn’t a pitch call. It’s a conversation where the main focus should be your prospect and his/her interests. If your customer feels that all you are interested in is your paycheck, you are going to lose the deal.

4. You move forward without a plan in mind

To save your and your prospect’s time, you should follow certain “rules” to keep the conversation alive.

To reach maximum efficiency, you should consider X minutes for an intro, Y minutes for the main discussion, questions and answers, and  leave Z minutes for summary.

Accordingly, you should visualize how your speech should be constructed, what main points you should touch, and what reactions you can possibly expect.

Besides, if you have agreed upon having a 30-minute discussion, don’t ask for more time as your prospect might not like the idea.

5. You are interrupting your prospect

Let me finish my sentence” isn’t something you would like to hear from your prospect. It makes you look impolite and is a sign of disrespect. Even if you have read your prospect’s mind, don’t interrupt and don’t put anybody in an uncomfortable situation.

6. You sound unconfident

“Certainly, “absolutely”, “definitely”, “undoubtedly” aren’t just words. They are tools that inspire confidence and show you can’t get a second opinion.

It’s not only important what words you use, but also how you use them. Your voice can minimize or maximize the power of these words depending on how professional your voice sounds.

7. You aren’t sincere

Deceiving a prospect becomes harder and harder every day as they get more and more informed and have tens of alternatives to compare.

If you aren’t sure how to answer a specific question, promise to get back with a proper answer.

If your company doesn’t provide XYZ benefits, don’t claim that it does.

If your product/service is a good fit for the prospect, don’t insist.

Sooner or later your prospects will discover the gap between your promises and the reality and you will definitely be criticized.

8. You are spending time on non-qualified leads

Non-qualified leads

don’t have the problem you try to solve,
don’t have the necessary budget you require,
don’t hold the positions you are targeting.


Understanding how to qualify leads effectively is essential. By doing so, you ensure that you’re not dedicating resources to those who aren’t a fit for your product or service. This not only conserves your team’s energy but also positions your company to better target its ideal customers. When you try to close them at all costs, you risk acquiring a customer that will churn soon or feel disappointed about your service/company.

Identifying non-qualified leads is easy when you know your buyer personas like the back of your hand. You know what they want to achieve, what holds them back, etc.

If you have trouble identifying and finding ideal prospects, you might consider working with B2B lead generation companies.

9. Criticizing competitors

Making someone smaller doesn’t make you bigger. You are responsible for what you are ready to offer, not what your competitors are bad at.

As a professional, you should be focusing on the benefits that your company provides and show at least a neutral attitude towards the competition.

10. You had the call: what’s next?

The beginning of the call is as important as the end of it. A great intro is the key to a constructive, engaged call. But it’s in the end when you summarize the results and decide what to do next. It’s you who should show the prospect the next steps and make the transaction happen.

Failing to agree upon a roadmap means that you didn’t do your best and the prospect is not likely to do business with you.


Written by Adrian Dimakis

Adrian Dimakis loves writing about everything tech, gadgets, travel and leisure as a full time editor at LearningRegistry. Adrian graduated from UCLA with a degree in journalism and marketing, and his work has appeared in publications including USAToday and The Boston Globe. When he's not testing gadgets and accessories, checking different online services, you can find him planning his next trip on a big paper world atlas with lots of pins. Adrian is also an avid consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products.


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